The Buttery Bros Supplement Their Leg Training with Electrical Stimulation

Do electric currents help build bigger legs?

On Sept. 11, 2023, Heber Cannon and Marston Sawyers, popularly known as the Buttery Bros, published a video on their YouTube channel wherein they traveled to The Refinery Gym in Salt Lake City, Utah, to test the NeuFit Neubie device with coach Zack Prior. 

Neubie is a neuromuscular electrical stimulation machine (NMES). According to the Cochrane Library, “NMES uses a lightweight stimulator unit and skin electrodes to produce a controlled and comfortable muscle contraction.” (1)

Usually, these devices are employed at low intensities for recovery. However, they have caught the fancy of bodybuilders, who use them at higher intensities in their workouts to achieve maximal muscle contraction to better promote hypertrophy. Cannon, Sawyers, and their producer, Julian Marquez, tried the NMES during their leg training. Check it out below:

[Related: Fergus Crawley Highlights 5 Common Hybrid Training Mistakes]

The Buttery Bros Neubie Device Leg Workout

Here is a snapshot of the Butter Bros NMES leg workout:

European Journal of Applied Physiology research found that NMES could increase muscle thickness, muscle fiber cross-sectional area, and muscle strength in healthy human skeletal muscles. The hypertrophic results magnified with an increase in the NMES training intensity. (2)

Leg Extension

Cannon opened with leg extensions with the Neubie device strapped to his quads. On a scale of one to 10, with one being a very mild current and 10 being so intense that the muscles cramp, Prior set the Neubie intensity to six and had Cannon perform 15 reps as a warm-up. 

Prior spiked the current to level eight for the first working set. However, the muscle contractions were so intense that Prior moved the electrodes from Cannon’s quads to his hamstrings. The current resulted in hamstring contractions, making Cannon fight the eccentric while extending his knees.

The Neubie features a current intensity monitor that showed Marquez handled a 26 percent intensity on the warm-up set to Cannon’s 54 percent. Marquez went up to 60 percent intensity on his final set to Cannon’s max intensity of 80 percent. 

Hack Squat & Leg Press

The Buttery Bros used a slow rep cadence on the hack squat for more time under tension. Most lifters contract their muscles in the fully shortened position. However, the Neubie induces muscle contractions throughout the entire range of motion.

The team found their groove in the third exercise. Marquez began with 50 percent intensity and finished at 69 percent. Sawyers skipped the first two exercises because of knee issues but strapped in for the leg press with 31 percent intensity on the Neubie and finished at 61. Cannon began with 80 percent intensity and achieved 95 percent on his final set. 

Barbell Back Squat & Pendulum Squat

Sawyers proceeded to the barbell back squat — the only free-weight exercise of the workout. He secured 61 percent intensity on the Neubie for his final set.

The lower setting was likely due to free-weight compound exercises requiring more core stabilizer recruitment than machine exercises. The movement trajectory of the pendulum squat allows a lifter to load the quads without applying excess strain to the lower back.

Editor’s Note: Someone training with a Neubie machine or devices like it for the first time should only do so under the supervision of a trained professional. It is always better to discuss the use of a new training protocol and/or equipment with a physician to better prevent potential injury or mistakes with the equipment.

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References

  1. Jones S, Man WD, Gao W, Higginson IJ, Wilcock A, Maddocks M. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation for muscle weakness in adults with advanced disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Oct 17;10(10):CD009419. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009419.pub3. PMID: 27748503; PMCID: PMC6464134.
  2. Natsume T, Ozaki H, Kakigi R, Kobayashi H, Naito H. Effects of training intensity in electromyostimulation on human skeletal muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Jul;118(7):1339-1347. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3866-3. Epub 2018 Apr 20. PMID: 29679248.

Featured image: @butterybros on Instagram